The Boston Red Sox Non-Roster Invitee list is an eclectic group of promising prospects, veteran’s hanging on, and players with a smidgeon of MLB promise. Let’s look at the 16 NRI’s
The Red Sox have just announced outfielder Steve Selsky being added to the NRI list. Just what is the NRI list? A television crime show? A stock symbol? I looked up that one and it is Northrim BanCorp in Alaska in case you are in a buying mood. NRI is baseball speak for Non-Roster Invitees. With Selsky the list now stands at 16. Just what are the chances someone may surface in Boston? Let’s take a look.
Right-hander Justin Haley pitched in 10 games (0-0, 6.00) for the Twins in 2017. Kyle Martin – another righty – surfaced in Boston briefly (0-0, 3.86, 2.1 IP) in 2017. Both will be assigned to Pawtucket (AAA) if they survive the organizational shuffle. With MLB experience the possibility exists of an MLB sighting if the Red Sox or another organization has a need. Martin is ranked 43rd on Sox Prospects and Haley 45th.
The most experienced of the pitching collection is a 33-year-old right-hander Fernando Rodriguez who last pitched for Oakland in 2016. Rodriguez has some credible “Big Show” credentials with six seasons, 216 games (all in relief), an 11-15 record and 4.35 ERA. If Rodriguez shows anything in Florida he could be planted in Pawtucket or grabbed by another organization.
Marcus Walden is a 29-year-old righty who pitched at Pawtucket (10-6, 3.92) last season. Bobby Poyner is a 25-year-old left-hander who went 2-1, 1.49 with two teams in the organization. Walden is pitching for a job with the Red Sox or another organization and Poyner is a prospect on the cusp. Poyner could be a serviceable situation lefty. Poyner is ranked 29th on Sox Prospects.
The catching trio is led by 24-year-old Oscar Hernandez who appeared in 47 games over two seasons (2015-2016) for Arizona. Don’t expect much from the right-hand hitting Hernandez who hit .167 with the D-Backs. Last season Hernandez hit just .197 (46-233) for Jackson (AA).
The rest of the catching group is Dan Butler who had some brief time with the Red Sox in 2014 hitting .211 (4-19). The now 31-years-old Butler hit .259 for the PawSox in 73 games last season. The last catcher is prospect Austin Rei. The 23-year-old right-hand hitting Rei hit .223 for Salem (A+) last season. Rei is unranked.
Another possible unknown it the catching flux is Blake Swihart who is out of options. If Swihart manages to get to Pawtucket via roster manipulation that could certainly shuffle the roster deck.
Hernandez and Butler both have MLB experience and if they end up somewhere in the system a spot call-up is possible. And the well respected Butler most certainly has a future as a coach/manager in the system. Catching injuries often necessitate a veteran presence in the minors and that could be Hernandez getting the phone call.
Michael Chavis is a high-end prospect that has seeped into the top 100 rankings on Baseball America. A little exposure for a future star? The Red Sox certainly hope so. The 22-year-old Chavis will be the closely watched prospect after his encouraging 2017 season in which the compact righty hit 31 home runs in a split season.
Ivan De Jesus, Jr. is a utility player who did have eight games with Boston in 2012 (.000). De Jesus has 228 MLB games and a .242 average. The right-hand hitter may or may not be with Pawtucket. Camp will tell all for his immediate future.
De Jesus main competition among the NRI is Esteban Quiroz a 26-year-old right-hand hitting veteran of the Mexican League. A career .289 hitter for seven seasons in Mexico shows some promise. Quiroz may join Hector Velazquez as a positive Mexican signing. Quiroz is ranked 44th.
A last utility type infielder is Chad De La Guerra who finished his season at Portland (AA) with a solid .270 average. Expect the left-hand hitting De La Guerra to return to Portland and possibly work his way to Pawtucket. De La Guerra is ranked 28th on Sox Prospects.
Rusney Castillo needs no introduction for the outfield group except $72.5 MM. Castillo was an International League All-Star in 2017 and hit .302 in Triple-A, but that contract! Aneury Tavarez is a 25-year-old left-hand hitting outfielder who hit .272 for three teams in 2017. Ranked 27th on Sox Prospects. They are both part of the four outfielders with an NRI invite and expect Tavarez to compete for a place at Pawtucket.
The last pair for the outfield is the previously mentioned Selsky and the power hitting Jeremy Barfield. Selsky surfaced with the Red Sox at the beginning of 2017 hitting just .111 in eight games before ending up in Pawtucket. Selsky is now 28-years-old and may be consigned to AAA ball with a release on the horizon if a spot is needed at Pawtucket.
Barfield signed with the organization last season after a stint in Indy ball. At Portland and Pawtucket, the right-hand hitter slammed 28 home runs in 99 games. Can Barfield be Jeff Bailey? Now pushing 30-years-old Barfield may get a shot somewhere if he continues with his specialty – the long ball. This guy hits the ball a long, long way.